Review: Paranoid Void – “02”

Wow! Just wow. The new Paranoid Void EP – which hides behind the dubiously simple title of 02, out online this week – will knock you right off your feet and out of yr winter blues. This is, without rival, the best math-rock of 2019; in a year where Ian Williams and BATTLES released a new full-length, that’s saying an awful lot.

For the uninitiated, Paranoid Void is a trio of young female musicians from Osaka, Japan that craft oft-frenetic math-rock with blistering precision and fluidity. While some post- and math-rock acts have weak links – “Yeah, the guitar’s great, but the bass is pretty derivative, etc etc” – every player in Paranoid Void is a master at the top of their game. As the group darts from one fossil-record-textured passage to the next, you’ll start to wonder where to center your ears. (My advice: just let it wash over you.)

02 picks up where May’s 01 EP left off, with the viscous riffing of “Ukiyo.” Guitarist Meguri, who wrote “Ukiyo,” flashes six-string tones similar to Mylets’ Arizona (think icicle-frost reverb) though she fits 10 notes where Mylets fit one or two. How drummer Mipow, who works the hi-hat and snare admirably in off-kilter pitter-patter, manages to anchor this stuff is totally beyond me. And Yu-Ki is a beast on the bass, bending notes and adding depth and frothing angularity in a way that suggests the trio have studied contemporary modes of avant-jazz as much as they have math-rock. In short: if you thought Don Caballero 2 walked the line between jazz and rock phrasings, you ain’t heard nothing yet.

The second song – which translates to “A Lakeside,” if Google is to be believed – turns down the boil a bit, and flashes occasional reference to second-wave math-rock like Reno’s Rob Ford Explorer, though Mipow often one-ups Explorer’s Greg Lewis in the percussion department. Here, again, the bass is a slithery thing, weaving serpent-like between blades of guitar-grass more than laying down a thick foundation. The song closes with a repeating motif on a guitar that sounds like it’s stumbling down a glass staircase; it can be downright frightening how evocative this stuff is.

The group is damn efficient and apparently has gotten word of that, too. On its website, the band posts a one-shot video of a live take performed in an empty warehouse, almost as if to prove these miracles are being captured sans overdubs. Mind-blowing, and true.

Word is the trio is launching its first U.S. tour in January and February – that’s can’t-miss stuff if it comes to your neighborhood. Now, I could go on waxing poetic about these two songs ‘til New Years (or longer) or you could go out and download the damned thing. Your call. – Justin Vellucci, MusicTAP, Dec. 27, 2019


About the author

Justin Vellucci is a staff writer for PopMatters, Spectrum Culture, and MusicTAP, a contributor to Pittsburgh Current, and a former staffer for Popdose, Punk Planet and Delusions of Adequacy. His music writing has appeared in national magazines such as American Songwriter, alt-pubs like The Brooklyn Rail, Pittsburgh CityPaper and San Diego CityBeat, blogs Swordfish, Punksburgh and Linoleum, and the Gannett magazine Jetty. He lives in Pittsburgh.